There is an odd sense of unity to the latest trio of Young Justice: Outsiders episodes – a sense of balance between all the various subplots that works wonderfully. While the main focus of the show is still upon the titular Outsiders – the team Dick Grayson formed from himself, Superboy, Artemis, Black Lightning and newcomers GeoForce, Halo and Forager – the latest episodes look to other directions, exploring the distant past and catching us up on what the other groups of heroes and villains have been up to since the mass resignation of several Justice League members and their sidekicks in the season premiere.
Episode 7, “Evolution,” sees the new heroes among the Outsiders being given their first specially tailored super-suits and officially selecting their code names. This is a minor subplot, however, to the main thrust of the episode, which details the Secret Origins of Vandal Savage. Through the eyes of Cassandra – a daughter of Vandal Savage who has come of age and earned the right to advance in his organization – we see flashbacks of Vandal’s various exploits, as Cassandra reads a secret book that details Savage’s long life.
Beyond telling tales of his conquests and victories and revealing that Genghis Khan was only one of the many names Savage used over the years, the history reveals Savage’s secret role as Earth’s defender from alien invaders since the dawn of time. Ironically, Savage is in many ways still the warrior on watch, protecting his tribe as he looks to the skies in fear at every meteor flare. The episode is an wonderful exploration of Savage’s character which casts the villain in a new light. Fittingly, the episode is dedicated to Miguel Ferrer – the original voice actor for Vandal Savage on Young Justice – who passed away in 2017 after a battle with throat cancer.
Episode 8 is called “Triptych” and is notable for having been written by Peter David – writer of the original Young Justice comics. A triptych, for those who don’t know, is the artsy term for any three creative works that are meant to be enjoyed together, as they share a hidden connection. A triptych can be made up of musical works, written stories or artwork.
I mention this because the three stories in this episode are seemingly unconnected until the very end. The first details the Outsiders confronting Cheshire and her new team of metahuman criminals (The Shade, The Mist and Livewire) as they try to rob STAR Labs’ facility in Detroit. The second shows Robin, Spoiler, Arrowette and Orphan investigating the latest scheme of The Mad Hatter. The third and final story examines the Justice League stopping a super-criminal jailbreak. More can’t be said without giving away the game, but the episode is well-written and reminiscent of the similarly themed Batman: The Animated Series episode “P.O.V.”
The only real flaw to the episode is that some of the new characters are not given much in the way of introduction. For instance, I’m still curious to know more about Arrowette and if she has an annoying superhero stage-mom like in the classic Young Justice comics. I’m also curious as to why Orphan wasn’t allowed to join the Justice League teen squad in earlier episodes.
The ninth episode, “Home Fires”, shifts focus back to The Outsiders. Everyone’s favorite bounty hunter – The Main Man himself, Lobo – has been hired by someone to take out Forager. At the same time, an unknown assailant is stalking the children of the Justice League and preparing to attack a play-date where many of the League members and their spouses are in attendance in their secret identities.
There’s not a lot of depth to the story here, but there’s a lot of great moments if you’re a Lobo fan. This is probably the bloodiest episode of the series to date and if there were any doubts that Young Justice: Outsiders was shooting for an older audience than the first two seasons on Cartoon Network, this episode kills them with a harpoon through the chest. Definitely not kids stuff, to say the least!
There is one funny Easter Egg here I’d like to spoil, if only to show how in-depth this series gets in its nods to the comics. In the first scene where we see Lobo, he’s speaking an alien language, which is translated with subtitles. If you listen to the words Lobo is saying, however, you’ll hear snatches of the made-up curse words he often used in his comics. “Earther Bastich Frag,” for instance, is apparently the Czarnian phrase for “Some peon Earthling is going to die.”
Beyond that, there’s not much beyond some housekeeping regarding The Light and how the villains have reorganized over the past two years. We also get our first glimpse of Granny Goodness, who has been reimagined as Mom of Mom’s Friendly Robot Company. from Futurama. This works far better than you’d think, though a part of me still misses hearing Ed Asner speaking in a falsetto like in Superman: The Animated Series. Still, the plot is thickening and it will be interesting to see how Darkseid’s followers start working to influence the Earth in the coming episodes.
Home Fires: 8/10
Young Justice: Outsiders releases new episodes every Friday on DC Universe.
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.